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Growing concern: Farmers Branch officials clarify landfill stance
In the wake of a heated public hearing on its proposed expansion of the Camelot Landfill, Farmers Branch officials reaffirmed their reasons for moving forward with their application.
In a letter to Carrollton Mayor Matthew Marchant, Farmers Branch Mayor William P. Glancy said that expanding the landfill is the most logical way to address the growing demand for trash disposal in the area.
"The simple fact is our society generates more household waste than ever before, and plans must be made now for disposal in the future," Glancy said.
Farmers Branch city manager Gary D. Greer said the number of people around the Dallas-Fort Worth area that are serviced by the Camelot and DFW landfills is so large that the facilities will have to expand to keep up.
"Half a million North Texans are served by those two landfills," Greer said. "DFW Landfill is expected to reach capacity and to close in about a dozen years. Without expansion, Camelot will close a few years later. If that were to happen, those half a million North Texans would be faced with having their cities truck their trash to deep south Dallas County, incurring heavy impacts on infrastructure, on the environment and on residential collection bills."
Marchant said that though the region's waste will have to go somewhere, the Camelot site is not the ideal location for the extra trash.
"Some have said that this permit is about providing for the regional landfill capacity, which I struggle to understand," Marchant said. "There are thousands upon thousands of acres located in Dallas, Denton, Tarrant and Collin counties that would be more appropriate for a landfill than this site due to their land use patterns and development."
Glancy said that the fault lies with the city of Carrollton for removing industrial zoning buffers and building residential developments next to the landfills. He also noted that no objections were raised when a similar expansion was proposed for the DFW landfill more than a decade ago.
"We presumed the city of Carrollton had embraced the concept of development next to two large landfill operations when it removed the industrial zoning buffer and encouraged the residential and commercial growth that has occurred in the area," Glancy said. "This was further evidenced by the lack of opposition when expansion of DFW Landfill was approved in 1999."
Marchant said Carrollton residents agreed to live next to Camelot as originally constructed, and would not have signed on for the proposed expansion.
"These residents and businesses planted their lives in this area based on the existing regulatory structure that is in place, which provides for a maximum useful life of roughly 20 more years," Marchant said. "If this expansion permit is granted, it will result in more than 100 years of additional landfill activity, and 202 more feet of visual blight in an extremely dense, urban area."
Lewisville City Councilman T.J. Gilmore said that, aesthetics aside, the real issue with Camelot is the health of both the residents living around it and the nearby Trinity Aquifer, which supplies fresh water to much of the region.
"We can find other places and ways to dispose of trash," Gilmore said. "The same cannot be said for clean water. This isn't simply a neighborhood or a region saying 'not in my backyard.' This is a region saying clearly, 'Clean water trumps trash.'"
Glancy said he understands the health concerns, but said there is no evidence of any past or present pollution, and that Farmers Branch is doing all it can to make sure Camelot is safe.
"Clean drinking water is important to all of us," Glancy said. "That is why the city of Farmers Branch has been monitoring groundwater around the Camelot Landfill for many years. There is no indication that the Camelot Landfill has ever caused any pollution in the Trinity River. Through diligent monitoring and effective action, we will keep it that way."
Greer said that the city understands the Camelot expansion is a sensitive issue to many residents, but he believes it ultimately is in the best interests of the city and region to move forward.
"This is a lengthy process that will be difficult on a personal, political and professional level," Greer said. "However, it is extremely important to every citizen and business in Farmers Branch. The mayor, city council and city administration are prepared to stay the course to assure the long-term benefit to the community."